DIXIELAND IS HERE to Stay" isn't just the name of Southern Comfort's new album; it's the band's reason for being. Traditionalists to the bone (trombone, that is), Southern Comfort championed the cause at Shakey's in Rockville, where, for almost a decade, the band was one of the hottest items on the menu -- pepperoni pizzas notwithstanding. Now, the group has moved to a Shakey's in Fairfax. Same menu, same music.
As a sample of Southern Comfort's repertoire and resources, "Dixieland" is certain to please dedicated fans. Not only are most of the tunes old friends -- "High Society," "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen," "Washington and Lee Swing" and the like -- but the arrangements allow for plenty of room, so that each of the seven band members gets a chance to distinguish him or herself in a variety of settings.
For example, the Fats Waller tune "Blue Turning Gray Over You" is painted in appropriately somber tones by trumpeter Joe Lazzaro, trombonist and leader Al Brogdon and clarinetist Henning Hoehne. And elsewhere the band has no difficulty pushing a war horse like "High Society" into Dixieland overdrive.
However, the album, which was recorded at Shakey's, isn't without its flaws. Lazzaro is a far better trumpeter than vocalist. His wife, Rdee, who is also the band's pianist, fares somewhat better singing "You've Got to See Your Mama Every Night," but even her performance lacks the robust quality the lyric really demands. Better that the band should simply wail away, its instruments engaged in the joyful noise that is Dixieland.
SOUTHERN COMFORT -- "Dixieland Is Here to Stay," (Roseland Records S-002); appearing Fridays at Shakey's, 10860 Lee Highway, Fairfax.